University of California President Michael V. Drake, M.D., and the Board of Regents honored four UC students for exceptional achievements and leadership in the presentation of the inaugural Regents Foster Youth Award and the 13th annual President’s Award for Outstanding Student Leadership on Thursday, Sept. 22, at the UC Regents meeting in San Diego.
The Regents Foster Youth Award was created by the Board of Regents in May of 2021 to celebrate foster youth students for their achievements and resilience and to ensure ongoing visibility into the unique barriers that current and former foster youth face in their pursuit of academic success. Students were nominated for their engagement with local, state or national community service efforts aimed at addressing the needs of current and former foster youth, and for their support of the University's mission of teaching, research and public service.
The honorees include William Carter, a UC Berkeley geography Ph.D. student and Fulbright Scholar, and Mary Tran, a first-year law student at UCLA.
Carter has organized and facilitated community events at UC Berkeley to discuss the foster youth experience in academia. In addition to supporting current and former foster youth, Carter also works as a disability justice activist on UC Berkeley’s campus. In his academic work, Carter is using his Fulbright Award to study the origins of racialization in the Middle Passage of the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade, and the processes which began the association between Blackness, criminality and “madness.”
Tran is a first-year law student and a board member of the Foster Care Legal Network, a nonprofit focused on providing legal services for current and former foster youth. She is also one of the inaugural members/founders of Simply Friends, an initiative seeking to enrich the lives of current foster youth by introducing meaningful and healthy relationships into their lives. Outside of efforts specifically pertaining to current and former foster youth, she has also been heavily involved in the outreach to and retention of Southeast Asian students in higher education.
“The University of California is proud to recognize the first-ever recipients of the Regents Foster Youth Award. These outstanding students have overcome significant obstacles to make it to UC, and once here, have excelled,” said UC President Michael V. Drake, M.D. “This award reflects our commitment to recognizing and celebrating our hardworking foster youth students. We look forward to seeing all the great things these inaugural recipients of the Regents Foster Youth Award achieve and to celebrating additional recipients in the years ahead.”
“The Regents Foster Youth Award honors the incredible resiliency and accomplishments of students who have faced adversity,” said Richard Leib, Chair of the UC Board of Regents. “It is our privilege as a Board to celebrate these students’ achievements and support the awardees’ continued academic success.”
Funding for the inaugural award comes from donations from the UC Board of Regents, with a donation matching fund from the University of California Office of the President budget. Each recipient receives $1,000 and a framed and signed certificate with the University’s official seal affixed to it.
President Drake and Chair Leib also honored the recipients of the 13th annual President’s Award for Outstanding Student Leadership at the meeting. The honorees included Deniss Martinez, a Ph.D. student in ecology at UC Davis, and Karly Hampshire, a medical student at UCSF. The two students were chosen from a field of 11 nominees from five campuses. A selection committee comprised of University of California staff reviewed, scored and ranked the nominations.
Martinez conducts research into forest management policies and restoring cultural fire practices for Indigenous communities across California and teaches cultural Indigenous practices, environmental justice and policymaking to undergraduates. Her work has furthered University of California climate action goals by helping to create sustainable solutions through local community partnerships with impacted Tribes and collaborating with state agencies to mitigate and respond to climate disruptions. She is also a board member for the California Public Domain Allottee Association, a nonprofit that works to help Native American allotment holders understand their options for stewarding land allotments granted to their families.
Hampshire is the founder and co-director of the Planetary Health Report Card (PHRC), a metric-based tool that aims to evaluate health professional schools in five main areas: curriculum, interdisciplinary research in health and environment, community outreach and advocacy, support for student-led initiatives and campus sustainability. At each participating institution, student-led, faculty mentored teams fill out the report card, identify opportunities for improvement, and reach out to relevant staff and faculty along the way, with results reported annually. Through Hampshire’s directorship, alongside a hardworking international team of students and faculty, the PHRC is now actively applied in seven countries at 80 medical schools.
Each recipient of the President’s Award for Outstanding Student Leadership is honored with $1,500 and a framed and signed certificate with the University’s official seal affixed to it.